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Amazon Prime commentator Clive Tyldesley and his sidekick Alan Shearer were left dumbfounded by Nicolas Pepe’s lethargic warm-up routine ahead of his introduction as a second half substitute against Brighton last night.
The club’s record signing has struggled to adapt to the rigours of English football since his £72million summer move from Lille and was again left out of the starting line-up on Thursday.
With his side trailing 1-0 at the break, interim manager Freddie Ljungberg opted to introduce Pepe at the start of the second period and instructed him to warm-up during the interval, but both Tyldsley and Shearer were shocked at his apparent lack of effort.
‘Freddie Ljungberg has played his first card and Arsenal’s club record signing from Lille may have an absolutely storming second half, but we’ve just watched him go through the most languid warm up I’ve ever seen a substitute go through,’ remarked the veteran commentator.
‘There was a coach who was trying to prepare him for the half who looked far more motivated and far more urgent than Nicolas Pepe.
‘Let’s see if he makes me eat my words.’ ‘I can think of other words,’ quipped Shearer in response. In fairness, Pepe was one of Arsenal’s better players during the second 45 minutes.
Arsenal grabbed a deserved equaliser through Alexandre Lacazette’s header but the home side, struggling for confidence, quickly surrendered the initiative and slumped to their first ever home defeat against Brighton when Neal Maupay’s superb header secured all three points for the visitors with 10 minutes remaining.
‘We’re disappointed to lose at home,’ conceded Ljungberg afterwards. ‘The main thing is we didn’t show up in the first half. ‘We were very passive and we had a chat at half-time, made a tactical change and all of a sudden we looked like a team.
‘For 20 minutes or so we really pushed them, scored goals and thought we could win the game, but VAR was correct.
‘That’s how we have to play the whole game. I said to the players that you can’t give away a whole half to any team in the Premier League. That’s what we need to learn from.’